There are three different ways to treat psoriasis – phototherapy, topical skin agents, and systemic treatment. Though doctors recommend a type of treatment based on the location and severity of psoriasis, the customary approach is to start with the mildest forms of treatment – UV light therapy and topical medications – and then progress to a stronger method, if necessary.
Skin solutions used on the skin are usually the first line of defense in treating psoriasis. Applied alone, ointments and creams that are used on the skin can effectively treat mild to moderate psoriasis, balancing the process of cell reproduction, and reducing irritation associated with psoriasis. Topical agents for psoriasis are typically well-tolerated without severe side effects. However, some skin medications are messy to use, and they may stain your clothes and skin.
Numerous topical solutions contain coal tar and/or steroids. They are easy to use, and often show quick results. They can be very effective in controlling mild to moderate psoriasis lesions. Skin agents may also be used with antibacterial and antifungal medications. They range from mild to extra strength solutions. Sudden withdrawal from some topical agents, particularly corticosteroids, can result to an aggressive reappearance of psoriasis lesions.
Some skin medications are used in conjunction with other therapies, especially UVB phototherapy. UVB phototherapy can be used to treat single patches, widespread psoriasis, and resistant psoriasis (does not improve with topical solutions). UVB light slows down the production of skin cells, and it is effective in treating plaque psoriasis that has not responded to topical treatment.
For psoriasis that is resistant to skin agents and UVB phototherapy, taking medicine orally or intravenously is the way to go. Medicines referred to as biologics may be used to treat severe psoriasis, or psoriasis that has not improved after using other treatments. Biologics are similar to proteins produced by our bodies. They block the harmful response of the body’s immune system that leads to the manifestation of psoriasis symptoms.
Biologics are given through injection. Initial clinical trials of biologic treatments for moderate to severe psoriasis have produced encouraging results. Still, the medicines are costly, and long-term side effects are unknown. There may be an increase in the long-term risk of cancer or infections with the use of biologics.